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It’s been further busy on the well being coverage beat these days, so a congressional recess supplies an opportunity to discover a few of the necessary tales that individuals might need missed, like Medicare’s resolution to dramatically restrict protection of Aduhelm, the controversial new drug to deal with Alzheimer’s illness. And even with Congress out, states are speeding to both limit or broaden entry to abortion, forward of a key Supreme Court docket ruling anticipated later this spring or summer time.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Instances, Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg College of Public Well being, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.

Amongst the takeaways from this week’s episode:

The choice by the Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Companies to restrict Medicare’s protection of Aduhelm solely to beneficiaries who additionally enroll in medical research of the new Alzheimer’s drug got here regardless of intense stress from sufferers and advocacy teams who’re annoyed by the lack of latest therapies for this devastating illness. However the federal company additionally seems to have been swayed by arguments by some researchers and public well being specialists that the earlier analysis on the drug was defective.
The dust-up over Medicare protection for Aduhelm factors to a supply of stress in the U.S. well being system: Completely different authorities companies have overlapping authorities. This dispute is between the FDA, which authorized the drug regardless of critical questions on its effectiveness and security, and CMS, which needed to resolve whether or not to cowl the price of a really controversial drug that can also be very costly. However comparable tensions even have performed out between the FDA and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention over covid-19 vaccine schedules and eligibility.
A latest Bloomberg report checked out issues that the federal authorities is overpaying for beneficiaries enrolled in non-public Medicare Benefit plans. Extra progressive Democratic members of Congress have lengthy complained about this, however Republicans are sturdy supporters of the Medicare Benefit program.
Regardless of the complaints of some on the left about the extra funding of those Medicare plans, they’ve been rising. That’s, partly, as a result of the conventional Medicare program has many holes and cost-sharing obligations that individuals with modest incomes are nervous about shouldering, and Medicare Benefit has change into enticing to them. That has sophisticated the previously partisan politics over the program.
The Biden administration is reportedly in discussions with a number of states about organising packages to import cheaper medicine from Canada. For the Democrats, this may very well be a robust marketing campaign speaking level — very similar to efforts on Capitol Hill to cap the worth of insulin — about attempting to assist individuals with a critical pocketbook subject. Drug costs have persistently been a shopper concern.
Nevertheless, it’s not clear whether or not Canada is inquisitive about serving to the U.S. with a drug import program and, even when it did, there’s no indication that the quantity of medicine Canadians might present would considerably affect costs on this nation.
Oklahoma’s governor has signed a invoice that will make it a felony to carry out an abortion, and Florida’s governor on Thursday authorized a invoice shifting the restrict for an abortion from 24 weeks to fifteen weeks. As the nation waits for the Supreme Court docket to rule on a case this summer time that might overturn or weaken the landmark Roe v. Wade resolution, conservative states are racing to seek out methods to restrict or ban abortions.
If the Supreme Court docket does upend protections assured below the Roe resolution, it’s unlikely that clinics in states which might be preserving the proper to an abortion will be capable to fill the want.
But even with the rising motion in conservative states, abortion-rights supporters have been shocked this week when a Texas prosecutor filed homicide fees in opposition to a lady who had an abortion. The costs, nevertheless, have been shortly dismissed.
The CDC this week launched new information exhibiting an increase in 2020 in the variety of instances of gonorrhea and syphilis — doubtless the byproduct of much less entry to well being care throughout the early phases of the pandemic. Though the illnesses can simply be cured with antibiotics, the public might not notice the want to hunt medical care or the devastating penalties of letting the illnesses go untreated.
The CDC additionally reported that drug overdose deaths reached a document excessive final yr.

Plus, for further credit score, the panelists advocate their favourite well being coverage tales of the week they suppose it’s best to learn, too:

Julie Rovner: Politico’s “Mice Occupy FDA Offices After Food Left Behind in Pandemic,” by David Lim and Lauren Gardner

Margot Sanger-Katz: Well being Affairs’ “Many Medicare Beneficiaries Do Not Fill High-Price Specialty Drug Prescriptions,” by Stacie B. Dusetzina et. al

Joanne Kenen: Vox’s “America Needs More Doctors and Nurses to Survive the Next Pandemic,” by Dylan Scott

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politico’s “Republicans See CDC’s Policy Change as ‘Massive Political Loser for Democrats,’” by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Krista Mahr

Additionally mentioned on this week’s podcast:

Bloomberg’s “Major Insurers Are Scamming Billions From Medicare, Whistle-Blowers Say,” by John Tozzi

KHN’s “Researcher: Medicare Advantage Plans Costing Billions More Than They Should,” by Fred Schulte

KHN’s “‘What the Health?’: The Drug Price Dilemma,” that includes Stacie B. Dusetzina

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